by Rebecca Post
When daughter-mother team Mina Starsiak Hawk and Karen E Laine rehabilitated their first house in 2007, they began a journey that morphed into a successful business and a binge-worthy series on HGTV. Their business, Two Chicks and a Hammer Inc., and their TV show, “Good Bones,” thrive today while benefitting neighborhoods in their hometown of Indianapolis, Ind.
Starsiak Hawk and E Laine will headline IFAI Expo 2020 as keynote speakers on the opening morning of IFAI’s annual event. Starsiak Hawk, the daughter of the team, explains how the company evolved: “I bought my first house and started renovating it and just got hooked. We have grown from a two-person company to one with eleven employees and four companies within our parent company.”
“I’m pretty fearless and am willing to take risks, as long as I know I can handle the worst-case scenario,” says Starsiak Hawk, who now leads the business since E Laine, her mother, has retired. The COVID-19 pandemic presented some unprecedented challenges in 2020. However, says Starsiak Hawk, Two Chicks and a Hammer has been able to keep all employees employed during the shutdown.
A business philosophy of “do well by doing good” is a driver for Starsiak Hawk. E Laine adds, “Do your research, do the math and then trust your gut. Every business has to make money to survive, but it is my belief that a moral compass and a compassionate motivation are most important. Going to work to make money is not nearly as satisfying as going to work to do good.”
E Laine, an attorney, says that their most significant business challenge today is the same one they faced years ago: “Being able to find and reanimate property no one else would touch on a shoestring budget. It takes a lot of creativity and effort, and it couldn’t be done without the entire Two Chicks team.”
They are particularly proud of their South East Street corridor renovation project in Indianapolis. E Laine explains, “We have five houses on the west side of the street, two houses and a retail space on the east side of the street, exemplifying what Two Chicks and Hammer Inc. does best. The company buys run-down property that many would bulldoze, then reanimates them, keeping the original feel of the neighborhood by maintaining the size and shape of the facades.”
By buying several properties in a small area, Two Chicks creates an epicenter from which more rehabilitation flows, says E Laine, adding “I am proud that we took this hobby, learned what we needed to learn, and turned it into a thriving business that contributes to the economy and quality of life in Indianapolis.”